Harvest Speeds Toward Finish Line

Between the Fencerows

We're moving into tillage, herbicide applications

Published on: November 6, 2013

My apologies for not blogging here last week, harvest has been full throttle pushing toward the finish line. 

We finished soybeans last week before 2.5 inches of rain Thursday through Saturday.  We are now in the final quarter of corn. 

Even with rain, it didn't provide any time off.  The repair list has been stacking up and requires attention.  We also had to haul some corn to make some room to finish harvest.  I didn't enjoy taking the basis hit for fall delivery, but is seemed better than seeking out unused bins in the community to rent, then hauling it there. 

Tillage rolling

As much as possible, we keep tillage rolling right behind the combine or manure spreader.  We are fortunate to have a retired man who is careful and enjoys driving.  Adding a chopping corn head to our arsenal last year has been beneficial to managing residue. 

The last few years we have been using quite a bit of vertical tillage to help mix and size residue.  (Vertical tillage is supposed to break through horizontal hard pans that can be left by more conventional equipment such as discs.  This allows plant roots easier penetration to deeper into the soil profile to access water and nutrients.)  Due to a wetter spring we are also using the chisel plow a lot this year to combat compacted soils.  Deciding what tillage tool to use is also affected by expected crop rotation.  Most of the time we prefer to strip second year corn, and chisel/rip continuous corn. 

Soybeans are often planted into two vertical tillage passes, one in the fall to hasten the corn stalk decay, and a second in the spring to aerate and warm the soil.

We are also evaluating which fields need a fall herbicide application.  We have found many of the non-gmo fields require less off-season treatment to keep them clean.  This is because the chemistries used in these fields have residual soil activity. 

In contrast, glyphosate (Round Up) is a contact herbicide which only kills emerged weeds and has no residual.  Once the crop dies, sunlight can reach the soil below.  Late season weeds and winter annuals then begin growing.  Local cost for fall herbicide programs are running from $12-25 including application.  Some of the higher price programs are guaranteed to hold back weeds until May 1.

A weed-free field is a limited host to insects to overwinter or lay eggs.  It is also easier to till or plant into a clean field come spring.